An alliance has been launched to explore how health data can be best collected and managed.

The UK Health Data Research Alliance will look into the best ways to design, use, collect, manage and analyse health data in a responsible way for clinical trials, medical research, and innovation.

It will bring together academics and health data specialists, with Health Data Research UK and NHS Digital being the first partners to join.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “At NHS Digital we are very excited about the potential for our partnership with HDR UK, which is based on a commitment to deep collaborative engagement and co-creation of all aspects of the infrastructure necessary to foster innovation in Life Sciences in the UK, from data acquisition and management to data platform design and delivery to ethical governance of health and care data.

“A dynamic partnership between the NHS, academia and industry is critical to create the necessary environment for the sector to continue to thrive and to maintain its status as a world leader.”

The Alliance aims to make health data more accessible and improve data quality in order to build a more innovative and efficient health and care system.

Currently, only a fraction of NHS and research data is easily accessible to researchers.

Targets for the Alliance include building a set of governance policies and standards to open up data, but still ensure that it is safe, secure and only shared where there is an appropriate legal basis.

Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary undersecretary of state for health, said: “Using health data for research has the potential to deliver solutions to the greatest healthcare challenges we face.

“This new alliance brings together the unique data assets across the NHS, and allows access to them by the research community in a safe, secure and ethical framework. From this will flow new treatments and insights which will transform outcomes for patients.”

This news follows six sites across the UK being given a share of £54m funding to address challenging healthcare issues through the use of data science.

The sites will work as foundation partners with Health Data Research UK.